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Frost Easton #1

The Night Bird

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Homicide detective Frost Easton doesn’t like coincidences. When a series of bizarre deaths rock San Francisco—as seemingly random women suffer violent psychotic breaks—Frost looks for a connection that leads him to psychiatrist Francesca Stein. Frankie’s controversial therapy helps people erase their most terrifying memories…and all the victims were her patients.

As Frost and Frankie carry out their own investigations, the case becomes increasingly personal—and dangerous. Long-submerged secrets surface as someone called the Night Bird taunts the pair with cryptic messages pertaining to the deaths. Soon Frankie is forced to confront strange gaps in her own memory, and Frost faces a killer who knows the detective’s worst fears.

As the body count rises and the Night Bird circles ever closer, a dedicated cop and a brilliant doctor race to solve the puzzle before a cunning killer claims another victim.

362 pages, Paperback

First published February 1, 2017

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About the author

Brian Freeman

56 books2,531 followers
Brian Freeman is a New York Times bestselling author of psychological thrillers, including the Jonathan Stride and Frost Easton series. His books have been sold in 46 countries and 22 languages. He is widely acclaimed for his "you are there" settings and his complex, engaging characters and twist-filled plots. Brian was also selected as the official author to continue Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne series, and his novel THE BOURNE EVOLUTION was named one of the Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2020 by Kirkus.

Brian's seventh novel SPILLED BLOOD won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the annual Thriller Awards given out by the International Thriller Writers organization, and his fifth novel THE BURYING PLACE was a finalist for the same award. His novel THE DEEP, DEEP SNOW was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original.

His debut thriller, IMMORAL, won the Macavity Award for Best First Novel and was a nominee for the Edgar, Dagger, Anthony, and Barry Awards. IMMORAL was named an International Book of the Month, a distinction shared with authors such as Harlan Coben and Lisa Unger.

All of Brian's books are also available in audiobook editions. His novels THE BONE HOUSE and SEASON OF FEAR were both finalists for Best Audiobook of the Year in Thriller/Suspense.

For more information on Brian's books, visit his web site at bfreemanbooks.com or find him on Facebook at facebook.com/bfreemanfans or Twitter and Instagram (@bfreemanbooks).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,839 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
February 24, 2017
Every now and then, I like to take a break from my TBR and go check out what's new and hot in the mystery/thriller genre. Nothing floats my boat quite like some murder and twists - that's just the kind of sweet person I am. But unfortunately, this very exciting-sounding mystery that's been generating a lot of buzz didn't deliver.

It's somewhat compelling, I'll give it that. Creepy masks, hidden memories, and a series of really bizarre deaths that all lead back to controversial psychologist - Frankie Stein (you read that right). I made a lot of excuses for it in my head - well, it's just a cozy thriller, what did you expect? does it really matter if they follow police procedure? sure, she makes some dumb decisions, but don't we all? - but in the end, I just couldn't ignore the mountain of issues.

The third person novel is split between the perspectives of homicide detective Frost Easton and psychiatrist Frankie Stein. Stein manipulates memory to allow her patients to forget bad experiences that have left them with crippling phobias, but now those patients are dying one by one in a series of bizarre incidents where they have a sudden psychotic breakdown. The blurb already tells us that Stein has missing memories of her own - a poor choice, I think, seeing as it gives up most of an important reveal.

Also, I really don't think I'm a very astute reader of mysteries. Even if I guess whodunnit, I am almost always clueless as to why. But here, it seems glaringly obvious. I mean, it's so obvious that for a time I thought it must be a red herring. And not only did I know the culprit, but it was easy to guess the whole reasoning behind it too.

Additionally, the women in this book left something to be desired. Well, really, all the characters were poorly-developed stereotypes, but the women suffered most from it. No matter whose perspective we were on, they were described by their curves and tight clothing. Every woman is sexualized, even the pictures of a dead murder/rape victim.

And why is everyone so stupid? Stein believes she knows who the murderer is - a man she already knows to be a murderer and rapist - but instead of going to the police and giving them this information, she decides to track this man down. On her own. At night. And another character, Lucy, is warned that a murderer is targeting Stein's patients and she's like "oh that sucks, but I'm going to try it too."
“It’s too dangerous, Lucy. At least right now.”
“I understand what you’re saying, but you know what? I’m sick of being afraid. I’m sick of what happens to me when I try to cross a bridge. Dr. Stein helped Brynn. She really did. So I’d like to find out whether she thinks she can help me, too.”

...Stein helped Brynn? Brynn is DEAD!

Then there were all the procedural issues that were really jarring. I kept ignoring them, but after a while I just couldn't anymore. For most of the book, it seems as if Frost Easton turns up at crime scenes alone without any other cops or forensics teams. I assume they must be there somewhere, but they're not mentioned. And Easton keeps breaking into private property without a warrant - this guy would have lost his job five times over during the space of this book. Not to mention he goes on lunch dates with his main witness AND lets Stein tag along on a murder case. I'm sorry, but WHAT? What detective lets a civilian demand that they go with them on a case? Especially when the person he's trying to track down has directly threatened her.

Maybe I don't understand the workings of crimes very well - I could definitely believe that - but I also find it very hard to believe that the police would make the choices they do here. Would they really release info on nationwide news that would enable anyone to trigger Stein's patients? I really don't think so.

The Night Bird was just so... implausible. I get that it's fiction, but we're supposed to be convinced by it, and there was no convincing for me here. I found myself being constantly pulled out of the story by ill-conceived plot choices.

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Profile Image for Christine .
569 reviews1,072 followers
February 27, 2017
The Night Bird is my Kindle First read this month. I am a big fan of Brian Freeman’s Jonathan Stride series and was very curious about this first of the new 2-book Frost Easton series. Frost is a homicide detective investigating serial suicides, a nice twisty change from serial killers. The case is intricately entwined with the psychiatric practice of Dr. Francesca (Frankie) Stein, who helps her patients selectively erase the memories of horrendous events.

The strong points of the novel are both the plot and the characterization. Night Bird has a nifty plot, which was a nice change from the usual murder investigations. Why are these people, all patients of Dr. Stein’s, killing themselves? Is Dr. Stein an indirect murderess? Or is there someone else behind it all? A very tough case to solve. The first and middle parts of the story I would describe as intriguing and moderately suspenseful. There are some real thrills later in the book. I was hooked from the get go, and my interest never waned. The characterization overall is excellent. I found Frost warm and Frankie cool; Lucy is endearing. Pam is a real bitch. We get a good idea of how both Frost and Frankie get to this point in their lives. Oh, and Frost has a fab little tuxedo cat named Shack (after the explorer Shackleton) who keeps Frost from being too lonely. Having the pleasure of meeting Brian Freeman, I know he is a huge cat lover.

Mr. Freeman explores the sites of his novels personally and intimately. Unlike the Stride series, which takes place for the most part in northern Minnesota, this series is set in San Francisco. Being familiar with both these areas makes the Freeman books even more enjoyable to me. I found his descriptions of San Francisco very good, and it was great fun being able to picture where many of the scenes take place.

The book also made me think. It is actually becoming possible for the human mind to be manipulated in such a way as to erase noxious memories. But is this a good thing? What is the journey of life if not for the memories we make? Do we really want to start picking and choosing our memories, thereby creating holes in the essence of our lives? How do we grow if we start removing the building blocks of who we are? But what if we can’t cope with them? Or even live with them?

Finally, Mr. Freeman makes a good point about how music can strongly affect our minds. Last year I read another superb book, Void by David Staniforth, addressing this topic. Powerful stuff. You will be running to You Tube to make the connections.

I strongly recommend Night Bird to all readers of crime fiction, thrillers, and psychological thrillers. I eagerly look forward to a new Frost Easton story in book 2.
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,017 reviews654 followers
February 26, 2017
What is your worst memory?

The mind is fragile, even a healthy one. Manipulation of a person's mind and its memories is all too easy for some. Coaxing a better outcome to a memory may have its advantages, or it may sully a lesson learned. Here, we have one who is trying to erase damaging memories, and another who is trying to bring those worst memories to life.

Night. That's when the Night Bird comes out to sing. And to play. It may begin with the quiet menace of a text message, or a song that begins to play on the radio. Someone in a creepy bone-white mask with insectile eyes with a grin splitting the face from ear to ear is in business, and you know the entity beneath is stark raving mad.



This was a Kindle First offering for the month of January. I liked Homicide detective Frost Easton with his utter love of street vendor hotdogs and his cat named Shack. Bonus points for finally reading of a detective who has enough sense to call for police backup when it is needed.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,169 reviews1,213 followers
May 9, 2017
"Frost thought about Francesca Stein and realized that everything in life came down to memories. The Good. The Bad. The Real. The imagined. Put them all together, and that was the person you were."

And if you had the opportunity to completely erase the worst memory of your life......would you?

Dr. Francesca Stein, a San Francisco psychiatrist, has entered into a groundbreaking field of psychiatry. She is working with her patients to unshackle themselves from traumas and phobias that seem to suffocate them. Dr. Stein claims that through her unconventional interventions she has released them from their world of terror. But don't count those chickens quite yet. Dr. Stein.

When a patient of Stein's happens to jump off the Oakland Bay Bridge during a traffic jam, Frost Easton of the San Francisco Police is called in to investigate. More of those chickens seem to come home to roost. Several women patients of Stein's suffer extremely strange psychotic breakdowns and their lives come to an abrupt end. Not good for Dr. Stein as the trail of feathers now leads to her and to her practice.

But someone sinister has entered into this coop. An individual in a freakish mask has been spotted near the crime scenes. The victims have also heard the strains of a particular song before their demise. Kinda like these chickens are mesmerized by insects that may or may not exist. Stein, herself, is receiving threatening texts on her phone in regard to the murders. Does Stein know the identity of this masked person or is this completely off the grid?

Brian Freeman presents a storyline tinged with a touch of bizarro world. Each of the main characters are harboring bad memory bags themselves. A bit hard to put down those bags in the course of all these events. Frost Easton is far from your typical detective in which he rents his home from a wealthy cat. Dr. Stein has an icy, distant relationship with her husband and live-in sister. She still hasn't dealt with the recent death of her father either.

I kicked this one up to 4 stars because most of the book was on point. The ending, however, had a few too many layers to fork through for my taste. All in all, Frost Easton may be a character worth revisiting in the next book in this series. And bring the cat, Frost.



Profile Image for Liz.
1,920 reviews2,359 followers
August 7, 2022
If you could forget your bad memories, the ones that have led you to a psychosis or phobia, would you? That’s what Frankie Stein’s psychiatric practice promises. She can erase your horrible memories in order to stop your neuroses. Frost Easton is a homicide detective investigating two suicides that have a common thread in Frankie’s practice. It’s a delicate dance of how much Frankie can help Frost because of patient confidentiality issues.
The story isn’t at all believable, but it is fun entertainment. It’s a super suspenseful thriller with quite a few twists. The one about Frankie’s personal life was obvious from the get go, but the twists about the suicides were not, at least to me.
This is the first book I’ve read by Freeman. He does a great job of creating strong, three dimensional characters. I loved Frost, the rare man who loves cats.
I liked that there is a philosophical bent to the story. And Freeman seems to have done his research into the scientific aspects as well. We now know memories can be manipulated, whether by police, lawyers or psychiatrists, for various reasons. But it’s a slippery slope when it comes to what is right or kosher. And what does it mean for an individual if they do lose parts of their history?
I listened to this and the narrator, Joe Barrett, did a positively creepy job.
Profile Image for Holly.
287 reviews4 followers
March 19, 2018
This book was a free downloadable title for Amazon Prime users, so I downloaded it, read it, and regretted it. It was a waste of time, mitigated only by the fact that it's a pretty short book, so it didn't take too long to finish.

The Night Bird is one of those books that you ONLY keep reading because the mystery is just good enough to hold your attention. For the most part, I found Freeman's writing style alienating enough that I could not be invested in any of the characters. The climax - although interesting on account of the book being a suspense novel - had no impact. Characters were consistently one-dimensional, and described as being either sexy or cold. Sometimes both, if Freeman felt like putting a little time into his writing.

My biggest complaint about this book is that almost every character is described in how attractive they are to the police officer that the story for some reason revolves around. We are told - pretty early on - that he is a lone wolf type. Despite this, though, whenever his character is evaluating a female in his head - or out loud, for that matter - he makes sure to also evaluate her attractiveness. I'm tired of books that set up women as sexual objects whenever they're being viewed by men and I'm tired of books that constantly pit women against each other. It's been done plenty of time already. Jealousy and sex appeal are easy touch-points to create conflict or drama when there are way more organic ways of accomplishing the same thing that will allow your audience to stay invested in the characters. The story line was decent, it was just crap writing that was full of way too many stereotypes to be more than superficially interesting.

Dude also loves his random stereotypes. All cooks are childish! Women are obsessed with cats! Wtf, dude. Listen to your characters instead of drooling all over them, Freeman. Your writing sucks.
Profile Image for Danielle (The Blonde Likes Books).
585 reviews324 followers
February 7, 2017
Lucy and her roommate/friend Brynn are driving home to their apartment in San Francisco when an accident happens and they are trapped on a bridge waiting for it to clear out. Unfortunately, Lucy is terrified of bridges. Brynn tries to calm her down by singing in the car, and chatting with her to take her mind off of it. In the middle of their conversation, Brynn starts to freak out out of nowhere. Screaming, she gets out of the car and ends up jumping/falling off of the bridge while trying to get away from whatever invisible thing she seems to be running from.

For homicide detective Frost Easton, this isn't the first woman who has suffered from a similar psychotic break which resulted in them killing themselves. He's determined to figure out what (or who) is causing these women to react so violently, so he can prevent it from happening again. His investigations lead him to famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask) psychiatrist Francesca Stein, who specializes in treating severe phobias by changing the memories the patient has that are causing the phobia. All of the victims were patients of hers at one point.

Now, both Frankie and Frost are being stalked and threatened by someone who calls themselves The Night Bird. Who is The Night Bird and why is he after them? You'll have to read to find out!

I have to say, I was so pleasantly surprised by The Night Bird! I'm not quite sure what I expected going in, but I hadn't heard too much about the book prior to reading it. I'm so glad I did! I loved it!

From the first page, The Night Bird is an intense, fast paced read. I was constantly trying to read faster just so I could get to the end and figure out what was happening and why! I was dying to find out who The Night Bird was, and the reveal did not disappoint! I absolutely loved all of the twists and turns that came up - I didn't guess the ending of this one, which is always a plus in my book!

I also really liked the ending of the book. I thought it wrapped up the story well. The only thing I wish I saw more of was Lucy and Frost's budding relationship. They started developing feelings for each other, and there was some build up didn't lead anywhere. I know that not all real life attractions turn into a relationship or something more, so I'm not claiming it was unrealistic, but I would have loved to see that go somewhere since Lucy was a large part of the story. Either way, it didn't take away from the book and probably works better since this will be a series featuring Frost.

The other thing I loved about this book is that it actually made me think about memory and how fragile it is. There was a lot of talk in the book about whether Frankie's work was ethical - sort of hypnotizing patients and changing facts about the memory until it was something new and less scary...I can't say I'd agree with that practice, but I also don't have any memories that are so horrific that I want to forget them. That said, Frankie talked to Frost about how memories can be altered by the power of suggestion, or by repetitive repetition from someone else, and I think that's true. If you leave the grocery store and go home where someone asked you what color the car was that was parked next to you, you might think you know the answer, but when someone continually asks you if you're sure, you'll likely start to second guess yourself. How can you be positive? So that aspect of the book got me thinking, and I thought it was a really unique concept to use in a psychological thriller.

I definitely recommend this one, so be sure to check it out! I'd love to hear what you think if you've read it!
Profile Image for Linda Strong.
3,882 reviews1,627 followers
February 19, 2017
What's the worst memory you have? An accident ... a trauma of one kind or another.. the loss of a loved one .... have a phobia of some sort?

And what if that memory kept you from living a normal life? Terrified you to the point you can't live your life normally? paralyzed when faced with something that reminds you of a bad memory?

Would you be willing to let someone play in your head to manipulate those memories? Make it go away? That is what Dr. Frankie Stein does. A psychiatrist, Dr. Stein works with changing bad memories into memories that aren't so bad.

Frost Easton is a Homicide Detective investigating the strange deaths of several women. They all seem to suffer psychotic breaks of one kind or another and wind up killing themselves. They have all been patients of Dr. Stein.

His investigation leads him to someone called the Night Bird. As the body count increases, the Night Bird gets braver ... taunting both the detective and the doctor. The clock is winding down and someone else is now in his sights.

This mystery, psychological thriller keeps the reader glued to the pages until the explosive ending. The characters are well defined. I really liked Frost ... keeping fingers crossed that he becomes a series.

Many thanks to the author / Thomas & Mercer / Netgalley for the digital copy of this novel. Opinions expressed here are unbiased and entirely my own.
Profile Image for Jean.
705 reviews20 followers
February 26, 2017
Question. Is it acceptable to pursue your own selfish satisfaction when it causes risk to someone else?
Question. Is it okay to risk another’s life or happiness simply because you really want something?


What is your worst memory? Would you erase it if you could?

These three questions are central to Brian Freeman’s newest creation, The Night Bird. Dr. Francesca Stein, Frankie to family and friends, is a psychiatrist who specializes in treating patients with phobias. More specifically, she uses a technique that removes their most horrific memories from their minds. Controversial? Oh, my, yes! To some, she is Frankie Stein – Frankenstein.

This becomes all too apparent when several of Frankie’s patients die in bizarre psychotic incidents. The investigating officer, Frost Easton, soon determines that there is a link, and with or without Frankie’s help, he sets out to stop a murderer. As a psychiatrist, Frankie begs patient privilege. She is bound by her oath as a physician to respect the privacy of her patients, which frustrates Frost to no end. Is she hiding something? Is Dr. Stein somehow responsible for the deaths of her patients, or is a person with a deranged sense of justice out to destroy her?

She begins her own investigation, and before long, both Frankie and Frost are receiving haunting messages from an unknown person calling himself the Night Bird. The case has become quite personal and extremely dangerous.

I always have mixed feelings when embarking upon an author’s new series. There is a certain comfort in following an old familiar course, such as Freeman’s Jonathan Stride novels. So my hat’s off to Brian Freeman for taking a leap from Duluth to San Francisco, from Stride to Frost. Frost seems like an interesting, likable guy, but I wish we’d have gotten more background on him. It also struck me as strange that he works solo through almost the entire book – we rarely see him at the station or with other cops. Lucy, the sweet, vulnerable witness, leans on Frost, and he lets her, but to his credit, he does finally set the boundaries. All that aside, he’s an agreeable fellow to be around, and I hope there will be more Frost Eaton in the future. I have to add that I appreciated the fact that Frost lives in a house owned by a cat – Shack, named for the explorer Shackleton. Freeman is a cat lover, and he's created a wonderful cat companion for Frost.

Frankie comes across as cool, clinical, and analytical. She says that she’s her father’s daughter – she and her sister Pam lost their mother when they were young, and their father never showed them love. He demanded perfection. Frankie learned to keep her emotions bottled up. What about her memories? How does she handle them? It took a while, but I eventually managed to like her, at least a little bit. Her husband Jason and her sister Pam were two people whom I did not care for one bit.

As for the plot, there were a few places in the middle where the action slowed down, but I think Freeman does that on purpose to set the stage, because it all takes wing and flies like a bat out of hell down the stretch. Freeman uses some nice devices, such as location and musical cues to establish the mood and foreshadowing. Twists and surprises? Oh boy! There are some doozies that I never saw coming! Coulda, shoulda, didn’t.

Now, about those questions. Frost knows what he thinks. Frankie comes to her own unexpected conclusions. I think I know. How about you?

4 stars
Profile Image for Tim.
2,084 reviews192 followers
February 17, 2019
The main characters are frustrating and unappealing. What's the point in dragging out heinously hideous scenes? The story could have been better with less torture. 5 of 10 stars
Profile Image for Brenda.
725 reviews150 followers
July 14, 2018
This was a nice introduction to a new character for author Brian Freeman. Frost Easton is 34 and a homicide detective in San Francisco. He’s a bit different in my eyes because his closest friend is his brother and he’s a bit of a loner. He’s still tormented by the death of his sister, whose body he found. He has an occasionally sexual relationship with his boss, Jess, who is not fleshed out at all. He lives in a mansion with a cat named Shack. Shack owns the mansion.

The book focuses on Francesca (Frankie) Stein, a psychiatrist whose therapy alters memories. I didn’t connect with Frankie very well at all, and maybe that was the author's intent. She’s written as cold, unfeeling, and bland. I couldn’t sympathize with her problems either. Several of her patients have committed suicide under weird circumstances and this brings Frost in to investigate.

The story flowed smoothly, but I didn’t feel much tension as the end drew near. I did enjoy this book, though. The author brings up ethical questions surrounding erasing memories and creating false memories. Would you want your worst memory to be different or even entirely gone?

I hope to learn more about Frost in the next book, which I will be reading soon.
Profile Image for Rebecca Carter.
154 reviews92 followers
April 25, 2017
I could use every superlative and adjective under the sun to describe The Night Bird, but they wouldn't be enough. It really is everything a great psychological thriller/ crime novel should be. I was completely engrossed by the suspense filled storyline, it had me second guessing each character. Who is The Night Bird swooping down on the inhabitants of San Francisco?

The book begins with the death of a young woman who throws herself off the Golden Gate Bridge, seemingly for no valid reason. Detective Frost Easton is the first officer on the scene, then when a second woman also dies in mysterious circumstances, a link is made between them and Francesca Stein. Dr Stein (I love her name!) is a psychiatrist who specialises in memory reconsilidation - wiping people's worst memories or fears.

Fingers point to Darren Newman, a charming sociopath who is known to have abused and assaulted women in the city, and has already escaped jail time for rape. With time running out, and the mysterious Night Bird always a few steps ahead, can Easton and Stein work out who the terrifying killer is?

This is my first read of a Brian Freeman novel, and it certainly won't be my last. He really is a master storyteller and knows how to develop interesting characters amid a menacing and tense atmosphere (although to lighten the mood slightly, there's also a cute cat called Shack). I think I suspected most people at some stage of being the mask wearing perpetrator, with all of the shocking twists and turns. It really has to be read in huge chunks, so set aside a weekend and be absorbed in this fantastic psychological thriller.

Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer, for the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,385 reviews978 followers
February 21, 2017
Truth be told I'm a bit of Freeman fan, especially of the Stride novels, so I was really quite excited to read The Night Bird which appears to be the first in a new series. And we ALL know how much I love a new series to love, so the outlook was good with little chance of rain.

Well except within the setting, where rain occurred.

Anyway I digress - The Night Bird is a truly excellent crime novel with an intricately woven plot and an eerie sense to it that doesn't bode well if you don't like to sleep with the lights on. Brian Freeman mixes a good old fashioned and terribly well done crime story into a huge dose of psychologically thrilling themes, adds some truly creepy set pieces and a whole plethora of intriguing characters then shakes them all up into The Night Bird.

Frost Easton is an immediately engaging main protagonist, having suffered a huge loss he now is a dedicated investigator - thrown in together somewhat with Francesca Stein, a psychiatrist whose patients seem to be suffering horrific psychotic breaks due to her innovative but controversial treatment - together and separately they try to work out what is going on.

That forms the basis, but then things get more complicated, definitely more frightening and its one of those books you just want to read cover to cover without drawing breath. Some of the scenes in The Night Bird will have you randomly glancing over your shoulder, the whole thing is beautifully constructed and highly compelling throughout.

Some of the themes explored are really gripping - memory, murder, familial relationship, just the tip of the iceberg. The story fairly rocks along, throwing in some lovely twists and keeping the reader off kilter until all is finally revealed. Great writing, great storytelling, just plain great.

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Krissy.
1,619 reviews297 followers
February 14, 2017
Idk... 2 stars? 3 stars? I'm torn. On one hand I was hooked and had a difficult time putting the book down. On the other hand every single time Frankie opened her mouth I wanted to punch her in the fucking throat. It's been a while since I've come across a protagonist that was so freaking stupid and oblivious as Frankie was. She was supposedly this highly intelligent doctor but I call bullshit. . Her sister was an ungrateful, manipulative, jealous bitch who treated Frankie like a piece of garbage. And of course Frankie allowed it. I figured out who the Night Bird was as soon as he was introduced into the story. I may have not known the motive until the end but I knew that little shit was suspicious af from the jump.

So there you have it. I guess I'll settle for 3 stars for now but I may change my mind later...
Profile Image for Tulay.
1,202 reviews2 followers
January 31, 2018
Psychological thriller.

Read the book two in this series first, that one was better than this. Only character that is believable is Frost Easton. Didn't know there was that many phobias. This book was free with audio, kept me entertained while doing my needlework.
Profile Image for Karl Jorgenson.
514 reviews25 followers
March 11, 2022
Freeman's writing has a wonderful intensity to it--every character distraught, tense, anguished. For me, he often over-does it, creating a world where everyone is on the edge of emotional collapse. In Night Bird, Freeman has invented (or riffed upon) a psychological treatment to modify traumatic memories.
The story has a wonderful beginning--the detective Frost Easton, looking into the accidental death of a young woman, discovers the victim shared a therapist and memory-adjustment therapy with another victim, who also died while experiencing an emotional melt-down. Could these deaths be murder? Could somebody have programmed these victims to kill themselves? Intriguing.
Freeman is a master at building a multi-level mystery. Even when we know how the murders are committed, we don't know who and we don't know why. Also a Freeman staple, the apparent resolution, 85% to the end, is wrong. There's actually somebody behind the scenes, pulling the strings.
Freeman pushes credulity too far for me. He always hides everything a bit longer than makes sense. His bad guy adopts the name 'Night Bird.' When he's seen in public, he wears a hideous mask. This serves to keep his identity secret, but it grates on me. Did Ted Bundy wear a hideous mask in public? Ed Geen? No. It's crazy and it would attract attention. The bad guy is as capable and omniscient as any villain from James Bond, Superman, or Batman. He's a modern Moriarty, with the intelligence, resources, and motivation to create a complex, all encompassing plot to murder people as a way of taunting someone. I didn't buy it in Sherlock Holmes, and I really don't buy it here, in our modern world of surveillance cameras and electronic footprints. Such a crazy, complex plot would fall apart a thousand times before it got anywhere. The premise was already too much for me: in one intense day, the bad guy can program an adult to kill herself, and the programming can be secret, even to the victim, and triggered at will with a signal. Really, really pushing it.
This is Freeman's first book set in San Francisco (he a resident of Minnesota.) He overdoes it with considerable glee, visiting every iconic site, building, park, and neighborhood. In case we should forget, the characters, who live there, are always saying, 'Well, it's San Francisco! Anything can happen!" The characters might all be depressed emotional wrecks, but they still have time to delight in the quirky charms of San Francisco. Also, just once I'd like to hear a character call it, 'the city.' Do they have to keep reminding themselves where they are?
Freeman has written several novels since the Night Bird, and at least two I have found to be much more rational, better grounded, and less over-written. This was a step back in time and style for me.
Profile Image for donna backshall.
610 reviews170 followers
April 25, 2021
I got 80% of the way through The Night Bird and ultimately decided I was never going to care about what happens with these characters. There was nothing particularly wrong with the book -- it simply didn't become interesting. I kept coming back to it, but the mystery of The Night Bird, the person who was turning chosen phobic patients suicidal, became less and less worth finding out.

I think it says a lot that I made it almost to the end and still didn't find it worth finishing.

Oh well, onto the next one. That's the beauty of the bounty of books. There is ALWAYS another book.
Profile Image for Andrea.
546 reviews
January 14, 2020
This is my first read from this author and won't be my last.at first it took me ages to get into this book love the characters but the storyline about memory confuses me abit till half way really got into this book.and the ending was really gripping.this books about your inner fears a young girl out of the blue jumps out a car and jumps to her death a few other similar deaths all being treated by the same woman.was she the link or involved.looking forward to book two in this series.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
Author 1 book19 followers
January 5, 2017
Let's put it this way: if you love books with lots of stereotypical characters and sophomoric writing, then look no further! This author constantly dates the piece in weird ways as well. For example, in the beginning, in a story that appears to be set in our present. It shows two just fresh out of college girls in a car on a bridge, listening to music. To be specific: Carole King and Elton John. Hello! The 1970s called, Mr. Freeman, and they want their music back!

What 20-something listens to that kind of music? As a 49 year old woman, I don't even listen to it anymore. He then goes on to name drop current performers in another conversation with two other characters--Iggy Azalea and Justin Timberlake. Good writing doesn't "date" itself...

He describes a female psychologist excessively, how "pencil-thin" she is, how she envied her sister's voluptuous curves, how she pushes men away because she only cares about her mind, etc etc ad nauseum...

Do we care? No! Cut to the chase and show us some action, Mr. Freeman! Excessive description isn't good character development. Ever heard of a little rule called "show, don't tell"?

Anyhow, you get the point... blah blah blah...
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,033 reviews361 followers
September 10, 2020
The Night Bird was a "free kindle book" that popped up as a suggestion. Normally I ignore those suggestions but this one looked intriguing - and it was and more! I didn't realize that Brian Freeman is the new writer for The Bourne Series so if you are familiar with the newest of those books then you are familiar with Freeman's work. With all that said, I read The Night Bird in less than a day. I could not put it down. It has psychological suspense, a psychiatrist who has played with the memories of her patients and who now is the target of a killer seeking revenge. The book hinges on the main character, Frost Easton, a detective with an interesting and varied past. Easton's character, his strengths and his quirks, were truly what made the book so good. There are two more books in the series and I'm excited about reading the next one tonight. Obviously, I highly recommend The Night Bird and Freeman's others books as well. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Megan Johnson.
47 reviews76 followers
February 13, 2017
This book just jumped right into it. I think the book was a good one and that the author did a great job with character development, but it could be winded at some points. I got a little bored at some points in the book too, like some things were added just to make the book longer. I don't like when books do that - it's just non - useful information.

Frost is the detective in the book and he does a great job. He has a pretty dark past and the killer in this book did his research on everyone he has came in contact with. The killer could be a number of people in the book, which I liked that it wasn't just one person.

I also liked the doctor in the book. The main issues in the book revolve around her and what she does for a living. I guess it's not cool to everyone when you take or manipulate people's minds. Though, I think it is up to the person who wants their minds to be erased.

The end of the book was decent, but I think it was a little predictable too. I think the author gave out too many clues in the end. Most of the book was amazing - to the point where I wasn't able to put the book down!

A must read if you like thriller or suspense books.
Profile Image for Darcia Helle.
Author 30 books691 followers
March 19, 2021
This book has a fascinating premise, but it lost me in the execution.

The theme of memory is handled exceptionally well. The author takes us deep into philosophical issues such as whether memory makes us who we are, whether psychiatrists have the right to erase traumatic memories, and, if they do, can that cause unexpected repercussions. I don't know of anyone who doesn't have some sort of unwanted memories. This story made me think about what might happen if those memories were to simply disappear or, worse, be replaced by false "memories".

While the subject intrigued me, the characters didn't hold up to the promise. Dr. Frankie Stein feels flat. Her character is detached from her own life, and so I couldn't connect to her at all. She's a psychiatrist who can't manage to fix the mess of her personal life, if she even acknowledges the mess, yet she is confidently rearranging other people's minds. Frost is a typical cop character; damaged but strong and caring. The young female characters are unremarkable and easily forgettable. Jason, Frankie's husband, is dull and robotic.

Where the story really lost me was with the unfolding of the crime and Frost's investigation. I just couldn't see a cop putting people at risk the way he did. Also, a crime of this magnitude should have had more than one lone detective chasing leads. The whondunit aspect is fairly obvious, though the author does a good job of casting doubt.

The ending felt like a letdown after the last major twist. It sort of fizzled out into nothingness. I wanted more of a bang, some sort of major emotional clash. The revelation demanded more of the situation.

This book should have had me on edge. It should have left a lasting impression. All the components were there, but I found myself skimming overly descriptive sections and rolling my eyes at the characters as they behaved exactly as expected.
Profile Image for Wendy.
1,594 reviews552 followers
May 15, 2017
Brian Freeman's "Jonathan Stride" series is one of my all-time favourites!
The Night Bird is the first book in his new "Frost Easton" series. I thoroughly enjoyed this thrilling mystery and look forward to the next in the series.
I recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers.
Profile Image for Maureen Carden.
274 reviews70 followers
March 11, 2017
How far will you go to forget? How far will you go in vengeance? How far will you go to protect family? Avenge family? Punish family? These are all questions are asked and answered in The Night Bird. Some people pay the price for the questions, some people are the reason for the questions. Just ask Dr. Frankie Stein. Some people try to answer the questions or to prevent the answers-that would be SF homicide inspector Frost Easton.
Interesting concepts, well-plotted but the characters needed to be better drawn. This is dark and creepy-except for Easton's landlord who's story provides some charming interludes. As for Jess-Eason's boss with benefits-she pretty much came out of nowhere in the middle of the book. Freeman could have done better with her.
Despite my minor quibbles I thought the book was well written and I look forward to the next Frost Easton.
Profile Image for Roz.
666 reviews187 followers
March 4, 2017
I don't understand the hype, this wasn't good in any way. The story could have been interesting with that creepy mask person with that voice, but it wasn't. I just wanted the book to be over, Frankie was so stupid I couldn't take it much longer. I won't read any more from this series.
Also what a weirdly placed cat..
Profile Image for Hannah.
34 reviews3 followers
November 16, 2017
Dr Frankie Stein is a psychiatrist who treats people with phobias. With hypnosis, she helps replace their worst fears and memories with less traumatic memories. Memory reconsilidation is controversial and some say she is playing God, but Frankie feels she is genuinely helping people. Detective Frost Easton is on the case of a young woman who has jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge to her death. She is 1 of 3 women who have taken their lives in what appears to be a psychotic break and all 3 were Frankie's patients.

Soon Frankie begins to receive strange and threatening texts from The Night Bird. It becomes apparent that these suicides are actually homicides and both Frost and Frankie soon begin to speculate who could be behind these deaths. The Night Bird taunts them while the casualty number rises. As they race against time to save the next victim, new revelations are brought to light, particularly for Frankie who knows memories can't always be trusted. The lines begin to blur as truth and memories cross paths in this unique mystery thriller.

When I started this book, it was hard to put down. I am fascinated with how the mind works, so this was very intriguing to me. I enjoyed most of the characters and loved how all the loose ends tie together. There were so many random characters in the beginning that I wondered how it would all come together. However, about 60% in, it really slowed down for me and was hard to push forward. It seemed to drag out too long but it has decent ending. I look forward to reading more from this series.
Profile Image for Sam (Clues and Reviews).
684 reviews162 followers
January 4, 2018
Last year, The Night Bird by Brian Freeman, was a book that I saw often. Several bloggers had posted about the book, it came up constantly when scrolling through my suggested reads on Amazon and, finally, in the Goodreads Choice Awards. I figured this was a sign that I needed to add this book to my TBR pile.

While picking my books for the Popsugar 2018 Reading Challenge, I was sure to fit this into my rotation (prompt 26: a book with an animal in the title) and picked it up on January 1; now that I have finished this book, I feel like a fool. I should never have waited to read this book!! The Night Bird had everything that I look for in a compelling read: an intriguing protagonist, a creepy killer and a hypnotizing plot. I could not put this book down.

The novel opens with the introduction of a homicide detective, Frost Easton. He is a jack-of-all-trades type of cop who has committed fully to the police force after the murder of his sister. When two, unrelated young women die, in what seems to be some sort of psychotic break, Easton leads the investigation and discovers something far more sinister. Both women have one thing in common: they both when through hypnosis to relieve themselves of crippling fear and they both were patients of the same doctor. Francesca Stein’s therapy is controversial but effective; she stands by her methods until she starts to receive threatening messages from someone named The Night Bird and realizes that the deaths of her patients were not coincidental. As time begins to run out, this gifted doctor and the devoted police officer must come together to try and stop the cunning killer before he claims another victim.

Now, I am not one for lengthy plot descriptions in my reviews but I cannot get over how DIFFERENT this novel was. I loved the concept of the hypnosis, memory changes and the mind control. The psychology of this fascinates me and I felt like Freeman did an excellent job with his portrayal. I have read other books with the memory/mind control type of spin and, in the end, it usually ends up feeling a little bit like sci-fi. I never felt that way during my reading.

As for characterization, Frost Easton reminded me of the detectives I have been loving recently: Sam Porter from the 4MK series by J.D Barker and William Fawkes from the Ragdoll series by Daniel Cole. Young, a bit jaded and seriously smart, Easton was extremely likeable and I found myself rooting for him entirely. I also loved Francesca “Frankie” Stein. I am all about a strong, female character giving the big, bad detectives a run for their money!

Overall, I LOVED this book and cannot wait for the second book in the series, The Voice Inside, to be released later this month. You better bet that I will be moving that to the top of my TBR pile!
Profile Image for Deanna.
908 reviews53 followers
February 17, 2019
2.5 stars

I wish I had passed on this one. Kept with it hoping it would be more believable as the plot developed, but it didn’t. The premise had promise, but in the end it was like an interesting idea that you take down rutted old roads.

The characters didn’t seem to be the seasoned pros they were meant to be, though they had potential.

The writing warred with itself, ranging from competent to immature.

Not awful, yet persistently disappointing.
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